Announcement

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And I didn’t die! We’re all good! It hurt like fuck (incidentally, I highly recommend epidurals, 12/10, would invite a doctor to stick a pain-killer tube directly into my spine again), but I have a baby. She’s perfect.

I might be a little sporadic in my comics and such for a while as I adapt to this whole keeping-a-tiny-human alive gig, but do not worry, I have no plans to disappear.

Remember, if you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here. (And actually with the whole baby situation, this would be a particularly excellent time to do any of those things if you’ve been considering them).

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Easter for Sadists, Part 2

(Part 1 in full here, or just read the recap at the start.)

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Previously on Lucy’s Evil Sadistic Egg hunts …

My partnerthis guy (arrow pointing to) comic of my partnerand I this person (arrow pointing to) comic of mehave a tradition of messing with each other via chocolate eggs these delicious fuckers (arrow pointing at) easter eggs. Two years ago, I came up with a Cunning Plan this face (arrow pointing to) comic of me looking cunning mid-hunt. Phase 1, two years ago, was to set up a small lockable cabinet in his mind as a VERY IMPORTANT HIDING PLACE that must be checked at all costs this fellow (arrow pointing to) cabinet with lock. Phase 2—last year, 2020, the year of constant terrible things—involved locking every last easter egg in that cabinet and then hiding the key this guy (arrow pointing to) a key by taping it to the back of the clock. It … didn’t work out. He got a riddle wrong, leading him to the key early. I was disappointed like this (arrow pointing to) me screaming and melting into a puddle. But that wasn’t the whole plan this face (arrow pointing to) me looking EVIL. This year was time for Phase 3. Something that had been living in my head for three years without me breathing a word to him. Something that had evolved in the wake of the 2020 hunt disaster. Something I had thought through every last inch of and ironed into perfection. But sometimes real life gets in the way …

So yeah. When I originally came up with the Cunning Plan, I did not expect that for Phase 3, the most important phase, the climax, the culmination of years of mildly-sadistic daydreaming, the bit that involved a lot of heavy lifting, that I would be …

Me, standing, clearly pregnant.

… pregnant.

I realised early on in the pregnancy this would be an issue, and set about working out how to handle it. I considered trolleys and skateboards, odd pulley systems or just risking some lifting and climbing, but when running all this past a friend, she very sensibly pointed out I was being ridiculous and she would be delighted to come around and do all the significantly physical bits.

Me, standing and waving. Friend is popping in from the side of the frame saying 'hello!'

Big thank you to her for making all this possible.

Are you ready? Did you read the recap at the top? Do you know all the key pieces in this game?

Good.

Here we go.

Easter Sunday dawned, and my partner hid all the eggs set aside for me. Credit where credit is due, he did his best job ever this year. He even used tape and twine to make things extra interesting.

6 panels. Panel 1: an easter egg balances on top of a coat rack. Panel 2: an easter egg is tapped to the inside of a pendant light shade. Panel 3: an easter egg is taped to the top of a fan blade. Panel 4: an easter egg has been tied with twine so it hangs from the handle of a watering can into the body of the watering can. Panel 5: an easter egg has been tied with twine so that it hangs from a curtain rail between the window and the curtain. Panel 6: I have removed a bowl-light shade from the ceiling and am taking one easter egg out, another is still in the light fitting.

And he really could have been cruel about it and put them all in places pregnancy made tricky or completely impossible for me to access, but he didn’t. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had, not after the previous year. But he’s a sweetheart.

Unlike me.

No eggs appeared for him that morning, but later that afternoon, when he returned from an errand …

3 panels: Panel 1: my partner sticks his head in the door and says 'heeeeeelllloooo? I'm home! Just a head's up in case anyone is still hiding anything ...' Panel 2: I pop out improbably from behind the coat rack and say 'oh, hi!'. Panel 3: my partner says 'Should I ... Look for things?'
1 standard panel and 6 small panels. Panel 1 (standard): From behind the coat rack, I say 'I would not presume to tell you what to do.' 6 small panels begin. 1/6: My partner looks around, hopeful, and I peek out from behind a couch in the background. 2/6: partner looks around, still hopeful, while I peer from behind a potted plant. 3/6: Partner is starting to look concerned. I dangle from the ceiling to watch. 4/6: Partner walks past something on the floor, it is a key on a note. 5/6: Partner stops and looks at the key and note. The tiniest top part of my head begins to appear at the bottom of the panel. 6/6: My partner notices there should be something large where the key and note are (glowing space with lines around it). My head is a little higher.
1 standard and 1 large panel. Panel 1: My partner says 'The whole--' as I rise higher from the bottom of the panel. Panel 2: I pop up looking very over-exciting yelling 'THE WHOLE CABINET IS GONE!!!' and my partner is rightly startled.

That’s right, I hid THE WHOLE MOTHERFUCKING CABINET. You remember the cabinet, right? It was in the recap.

This fellow (an arrow pointing to a cabinet)

You got it. That fellow.

This was something I had been planning for three whole years. First step, establish the cabinet as important for hiding things. Second step, hide ALL the eggs in the cabinet and then take the key, replacing it with the first in a string of riddles, and hide it. Third step, HIDE THE WHOLE MOTHERFUCKING CABINET.

Seriously, this plot took me years to pull off, please appreciate the moment. I sure did.

Close up of my face. I am glowing pink with sparkles and clapping with delight.

My partner probably would have been more impressed if, at that same moment, he hadn’t peeked through the neighbouring door to the spare bedroom and seen …

3 panels. Panel 1: my partner ignores the key on the floor to peek through a door to the spare room. There is a suspicious cabinet-shape under the covers, which is glowing with lines around it because it's so suspect. Panel 2: Closer view of my and my partner (the door is still visible in the background with the suspiciously glowing cabinet shape in the bed). My partner says ' ... Can I look in here?'. Panel 3: my partner and I. I say
3 panels. Panel 1: my partner says 'It's just ... Last year I jumped to the end, and this year I'd like to do it properly.' Panel 2: I say 'If you jump to the end, you aren't breaking the rules. You just win.' Panel 3: my partner says, 'if you're sure.'

See? Sweetheart. Bless him.

2 panels. Panel 1: the cover is pulled back from the bed to reveal a pile of books arranged in the rectangular shape of the cabinet. There is a note on top that reads 'LOL psych.' Panel 2: my partner stares at the note. My head is viisble in the bottom corner. I am so delighted that I am glowing pink with sparkles.

I’m not totally evil. You may have noticed that along with the key to the missing cabinet, I left a note.

A note with a key. The note reads: Where does today come before yesterday? WRONG ANSWERS ONLY'

Or maybe I am.

See, this was the riddle he got wrong last year. The correct answer is the dictionary. The very obviously erroneous answer is the clock. Which, unfortunately, happened to be where I hid the key. Hence, he got a short-cut to the end. As I melted in disbelief and anger, I was already brainstorming how to twist the tragedy not only into the next phase of the Cunning Plan, but figuratively into him like a sharp, stabby—and again completely figurative—revenge knife.

So, this year …

2 panels. Panel 1: The dictionary with a note that reads: 'Oh, NOW you can get this riddle right. Too bad I said WRONG ANSWERS ONLY.' Panel 2: The clock with a note that reads: 'Correct! I mean incorrect! Which is correct because this is a wrong answers only quiz! What must be broken to be used?'

Another riddle from last year. The correct answer last time was eggs, and the next riddle was in the egg carton in the fridge. This year …

Egg cartoon containing a note which reads: 'Again, wrong answers only.'

… the ‘right’ answer was actually in the freezer.

A tray of ice with a note that reads: 'Yes! Something about breaking the ice probably! That almost makes sense. What has a head and a tail but no body?'

Last year the answer was coins.

A piggy bank wearing sunglasses with scattered coins. There is a note that reads: 'Don't you get how this works yet?'

This year, that was not the answer. He spent a lot of time hunting, in which he became he was delightfully frustrated. He is very entertaining when he is frustrated. And very productive. He found all sorts of other things.

3 panels. Panel 1: my partner walks past an open door, through which can be seen a suspiciously cabinet-y shape behind a curtain. Panel 2: my partner peeks into the room at the now-glowing-suspisciously shape and says 'That isn't the cabinet either, is it?'. Panel 3: I pop out from a large decorative pot, startling my partner, and say 'You'll have to look!'
2 panels. Panel 1. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal a cardboard box the shape of the cabinet. A note is taped to it that says 'Haha. No.' Panel 2: My partner looks disappointed. I, still in the large decorative pot, can be seen in the bottom corner of the panel looking so delighting that I am, again, glowing pink with sparkles.

But after an hour, even I was getting a bit frustrated. I mean, I had been waiting for the revenge-riddle pay-offs for a whole year and some of the bigger pay-offs for three whole years.

3 panels. Panel 1: my partner stands in a room with several pieces of furniture including a bookcase, a potted plant and a coffee table. A cat sleeps in a cat-bed on the floor. My partner says 'Help me out here, cat ... where should I look next?' Panel 2: I sweep aside the books from the bookshelf, revealing that I have folded myself up to hide there. I say 'Would you like a hint?' My partner is not impressed. He says 'Yes.' Panel 3: still in the bookcase, I say 'you just asked the right person.'

With that little tip, he got there in the end.

A box of beaten up cat toys. There is a long note, the cat is peeking out from behind it. The note reads: 'Well done! A head, a tail, but no body--probably something the cat disembowelled! Hence, this is with the cat toys. Look, this doesn't have to be a good answer because the point is it's WRONG. See how annoying it is when people come up with nonsensical solutions to riddles? FINAL ONE: What has many keys but can open no locks?'

The right answer from last year was the piano.

3 panels. Panel 1: in the middle of a room filled with a cupboard, a lamp, too pictures (one of my dinosaur friend, one of the cat licking it's bum), and two large potted plants, my partner stands and calls out 'Should I bother checking the piano?' Panel 2: I pop out from behind his back (he looks suitably alarmed) and say 'At this point, I think you can guess how that will go.' Panel 3: The piano keyboard. Sticking out of the sheet music is a note that reads: 'Masochist.'

This year …

A bowl full of keys and other pocket odds and ends. There is a note that reads: 'The key bowl! It has many keys, but can't open locks. BECAUSE IT'S A BOWL. Unfortunately, one of the keys has got confused and wandered off to be with others like it...'

The garden shed key was missing, and it didn’t take him long to follow the clue back to the piano and find it taped to the bottom of the stool.

So finally, after a long, exhaustive hunt throughout the house, he went out into the garden to the shed to find the missing cabinet.

I followed close behind.

1 standard panel, 3 small panels, and 1 more standard panel. Panel 1 (standard): my partner walks down the garden path holding two keys toward a padlocked shed. He looks very pleased with himself. 3 small panels. 1/3: My partner is walking on the path, I pop up from the bottom of the panel. 2/3: I slither along the path (still pregnant, btw). 3/3: I slither off the path, toward the bottom of the panel... Final panel (standard): I slither down from the last panel to watch from a distance as my partner unlocks the shed.
1 panel (standard), 3 small panels, 1 more panel (standard). Panel 1: my partner has opened the shed to reveal the glowing cabinet. He is clearly delighted. Small panels. 1/3: my partner moves the cabinet toward the shed door, something rattles in the cabinet (this is shown through use of the word *rattle* written around the cabinet). 2/3: my partner moves the cabinet out of the shed as it continues to rattle. He says ... 3/3 'I can hear the eggs!' The cabinet is on the grass and he is putting a key in the lock. Final panel (standard): he opens the top draw of the cabinet, which glows around him.
3 panels: my partner pulls and handful of rocks our the draw and says 'rocks?'. Panel 2: He reaches back in the draw, there is something white visible inside. Panel 3: It is a note, which says: 'Did I ever actually say the eggs were in the cabinet? Happy hunting!'
3 panels. Panel 1: my partner yells back toward the house 'But I've already looked everywhere!' Panel 2: I slither from the other side of the panel. He looks at me, unimpressed. Panel 3: He has turned his back to me and is ignoring me. I slither-levitate from the ground behind him, obviously delighted,
1 huge panel. My partner is in the foreground, ignoring me. In the background I am a huge monster of delight. I glow and sparkle. It is unclear if I look threatening or happy.

Now the riddle portion of the hunt was over, I could relax. It had all gone smoothly. He could no longer do anything in the wrong order. And it had been magnificent. I was satisfied.

He was not.

Days passed. Every now and then, I would come across him fossicking in some unlikely place.

My partner stands in front of a ransacked room. There is an empty bookcase with books and boxes scattered around it (the cat does remain on the top shelf though), a couch with the cushions removed and the stuffing exposed

Of course I’m not. What an abominable suggestion.

If I went that route, I would have eaten his eggs, not thrown them away.

I have to confess that after the disastrous 2020 hunt, I did consider doing just that. Only for a moment. At the end of the day, I’m not that sort of evil. The point of all this, as much as I might pretend otherwise, was for him to have fun. And, though he might pretend otherwise, he was having fun.

Close up of my partner, arms folded, standing in front of a huge pile of ransacked stuff (including books, a tipped-out board game, a cat in a box, an electrical cord, a lamp with no shade). He does not look like he is having fun.

No really. It’s obvious if you know him well. There’s a little twinkle he can’t quite hide.

3 panels. I lie in bed in the dark, clearly I have been asleep. My partner bends over me saying 'can you at least tell me if I should actually be looking outside?' Panel 2: I look at him in concern, he is looking a bit frazzled. Panel 3: I say 'Urhh ... okay. I am willing to confirm the eggs are inside the house.' He looks pleased.

See? He was really keen to do the hunt.

Besides, I knew it wouldn’t take him too long to find them. Not in the big scheme of things. We had been doing some house improvements, and thanks to a few recurring chores, I knew before long he would have to accidentally stumble on them …

1 large panel, 3 small panels. Panel 1: My partner is on a ladder, underneath an open manhole in the ceiling. He is holding a bag of sparkling green easter eggs and saying to me (I am reading a book on a couch with my back to him) 'In the CEILING?' Small panels. 1/3: close up of the back of my head as I sit on the couch and read my book. 2/3: My neck begins to twist. 3/3: my neck is definitely twisting exorcist style.
1 huge panel. My neck has twisted the whole way around. I am glowing pink with delight.
3 panels. Panel 1: my partner stands, holding the eggs, saying 'I don't know what to say. Panel 2: he looks at the eggs. Panel 3: he looks back forward and says 'I'm really impressed.'

As he should be.

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Whew. That was a lot of illustrations. And a lot of work. And a lot of planning. I hope you enjoyed the write up. I would have made this hunt even if I didn’t have a website to share it on, of course. Plotting is fun.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here. (And actually with the whole baby-about-to-show up situation, this would be a particularly excellent time to do any of those things if you’ve been considering them).

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Pregnancy Brain

Comic with three panels. Panel 1: my partner and I are leaving the house, I am clearly pregnant. I say "I haven't had any of this 'pregnancy brain' people talk about." Panel 2: We are getting in the car. I am patting my pockets and saying, "keys, wallet, phone. Easy!". Panel 3: we are driving.
3 panels. Panel 1: We are still driving. I suddenly yell: "Oh my God! Turn around!" Panel 2: I say "We forgot the baby!" Panel 3: I am still very visibly pregnant, and my partner gives me a funny look.

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I wish this wasn’t a true story, but it did happen.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here. (And actually with the whole baby-about-to-show up, this would be a particularly excellent time to do any of those things if you’ve been considering them).

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

What Happens Next

CW: pregnancy, pregnancy loss, blood, medical procedures.

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October 2020.

I never used to be someone who cries a lot, but then I had four miscarriages.

Me, sitting slumped behind a car window, cheek skin smooshed and pulled by the contact. Messy tears trickling down my face and down the window.

Now, I am someone who sneaks away from social events for a quick, private weep. I am someone who burst into tears in waiting rooms when I am told the blood tests I need will be slightly complicated. I am someone who has sobbed all over anaesthetists prepping me for surgery, broken down suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of sex, blubbered as sonogrammers shoved ultrasound wands inside me, and bawled while eating famous scallop pies and trying to be on holiday.

I cry now because we’ve opened Pandora’s box again, and we can only wait as all the familiar monsters come out.

I’m pregnant for the fifth time, and we are on our way to an early pregnancy ultrasound.

Slightly wider angle than the last image. In this one, my partner can be seen in the drivers seat. He says 'Whatever happens next, we'll be okay.'
***

What happens next is it won’t be gone, not on this scan. It will just be ‘a bit behind.’ Someone will say, ‘well, maybe your dates are a bit out, that happens all the time.’ They always start with that because it does happen all the time. Just not to me.

There will be a heartbeat, but it will be slow. I will have to wait a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks having scan after scan, and it still won’t be gone. I will watch as it fails to grow, as the heartbeat slows, weakens, fades to nothing. The whole time, I will keep having symptoms. I will have nausea all day every day. I will vomit.

And as I wait, I will turn into emotional jenga. My side pieces will start coming out. Holes will open in my heart, gaps in my body, spaces in my mind. It will be all I can do to handle them gently and add them back to the top of the stack without losing structural integrity.

Maybe I will start bleeding and the miscarriage will be natural, but that’s only happened to me once. More likely, once the heartbeat finally stops, when there is no chance, I will be given the choice to either keep waiting for it to pass on its own or to have medical management. At that point, which will probably be over a month from this car trip, I will choose medical management.

The medical options are minor surgery or medication. The surgery is a very safe, only a ten minute procedure, but if you have it many times it can start to increase your risk of pre-term labour in future pregnancies. I have already had it three times; for the first two losses, and then for a hysteroscopy to scan my uterus after the fourth. The increased risk is still very small, but I don’t want to let go of the idea that pre-term labour might one day be something I have to worry about. So I will pick the medication that triggers bleeding, like I did the third time.

I will have to go to hospital and stay there all day to be monitored. It will be boring. It will hurt. It will be lonely. I will bring a book to read, like I did the other time.

Two panels. I am sitting in a hospital bed reading a book. A nurse has come into the room holding towels. There is a closed door in the background between us. In the first panel, the nurse says 'What's the book about?' and I respond, 'Monstrous people-eating mermaids.' In the second panel, the nurse looks perturbed and says 'um ... okay'.

I will try not think about the fact that the reason the nurses are always in and out is to collect the ‘product’ of the pregnancy from my pads and from my urine so it can be tested. I will try harder not to think about whether or not I am leaving my not-baby in a bucket of pee on the bathroom floor.

I will try not to worry that I will have to stay in a whole second day if I do not pass enough the first day, like I did the other time. That time, a friend had visited with a gift-book so I was covered for entertainment on the extra day, but this time I will be ready and bring extra books from the start.

Two panels. Again, I am sitting in a hospital bed, reading. A nurse has come into the room and is holding something in a jar. The door in the background is no longer closed, but half open revealing a bathroom. In the first panel, the nurse says 'So ... what's this one about?' and I say 'A refugee spaceship with an insane AI who has a heap of nukes at its disposal, and also there's some sort of zombie rage-virus'. In the second panel, the nurse just looks at me.
Two panels. The first is a close up of my face, behind a book, but my eyes are looking sideways toward the nurse. The second panel is a close up of the jar the nurse is holding. It contains yellow-red liquid with floating red bits.
***
The car with me and my partner in it. We are driving on a road through a wooded area.
***

We don’t talk about miscarriage enough. Certainly not with people who haven’t had one themselves. And because we don’t, when it happens to you, there are two choices. Both have a price-tag.

You can hide it and remain silent, and the price is silence. You have to pretend every day that your baby didn’t happen. You have to pretend to be happy, or at least normal. You get to avoid dolling out bad news. You get privacy. You get no understanding, no support.

I choose option two. I spoke up.

I don’t regret my choice. Silence is cold and terrible, and I never choose it while I have strength. Option two brought me a lot of kindness and support and love.

But when speaking up is unusual, it has a price-tag too. And the price is you have to keep speaking up. Even on the bad days. Even when the questions punch right through you. Even when it’s the thousandth time you’ve said it. Because you are an educator now.

And because maybe, maybe, if enough people choose option two and enough questions are answered enough times then it will all slide into the pool of general knowledge and option two won’t have a price-tag anymore. Maybe it can be a little easier for the next person.

I hope so.

***
The car with myself and my partner in it. We are now driving on a suburban street
***

Because what happens next, when I’m out of hospital, is that I will be asked,

Three panels. In the first, I am standing with another person. They ask, 'So ... what's the problem?'. In the second, two more people have joined us. They both ask, 'What's the problem?' In the third panel, I am surrounded by people all of them saying 'What's the problem?'

The chorus started after the first miscarriage and grew in volume. It reached its peak by the time of the third miscarriage. I tried to block my ears to the two silent words I always heard at the end.

(with you)

How do you answer a question like that? I still don’t know, but I had to say something, somehow. That’s the price.

I had responses rehearsed:

We don’t know. There might not be a problem. Miscarriages are more common than people think, and most of them are never explained. I couldn’t have prevented this. But the doctors do want to run some tests now that I’ve had so many.

I lost count how many times I said some variation on that. And every time I said it to someone else, I said it to myself too.

No, it’s a myth that stress causes miscarriages. Besides, I wasn’t stressed until after the miscarriages started. I couldn’t have prevented this.

I had blotted out the self-blame after the first miscarriage and the second, shut my eyes and stuck my fingers in my ears and shouted “lalalalalala” every time it tried to intrude. But three times is too many.

Yes, I have been taking the proper vitamins. Plenty of people don’t and still have healthy pregnancies. I couldn’t have prevented this.

And there’s so much judgement around parenting already. People who honestly and idiotically believe it doesn’t count if you have a c-section or feed the baby formula. People who think childbirth is an integral part of being born with a uterus and you can’t live a full life without doing it at least once. People who know the right way to do everything and are always on the lookout for people doing it the wrong way.

No, I haven’t been smoking or drinking. I’ve never smoked at all. I completely stopped drinking whenever we were trying, and I’d rarely had more than one drink in a sitting for years before that. Yes, I stopped caffeine.

I held it off for a long time, but in the end it crept in. The idea that I must have done something differently, must have done something wrong, must not be right for this, must not want it enough, must be broken. And it didn’t matter how many times I said

I couldn’t have prevented this.

I didn’t believe it anymore.

Me. Above my head are the words 'the problem' with an arrow pointed at me.

I was done being an educator. I tried not answering. I tried saying I didn’t want to answer. I tried getting my husband to pre-emptively mention to people we’d be spending time with that I didn’t want to be asked anymore, I wasn’t coping, and please, please don’t do it.

None of it worked. I had already chosen option two, I couldn’t unchoose it. In the end, I answered every single time.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

What happens next is that I will remember the third time I miscarried, in the cruel window when I was still pregnant but the baby wasn’t growing and the heartbeat was slowing, and the nurse who took my blood for a test telling me that I must not want the baby because I didn’t look excited enough. I wanted to melt away in shame. I wanted to explain what it was like, knowing what comes next.

But I just said ‘thank you’ when I left.

I couldn’t have prevented this.

***
Me and my partner in the car. We are now driving through a
***

What happens next is I will see another specialist. Even though my GP ran all the tests she knew about. Even though she’s already sent me to specialists to run the tests she didn’t know about. The new specialist will be impressed with the number of tests we’ve already had done, warn me that more often than not miscarriages are never explained and I should be ready for that outcome, and then run a few more tests.

After the third miscarriage I had something called a HyCoSy. Basically, that’s an ultrasound taken while they shoot saline up into your uterus and fallopian tubes so they can make sure everything is the right shape and not blocked.

Allow me to set the scene. It was an old house made over into a doctor surgery. The hallways still had gorgeous floorboards, the waiting room looked like a perfectly sterile magazine living room, the receptionist was definitely the sort of person who would wear a colour like taupe, and everything smelled expensive.

Enter me.

Chronically ill, professional disaster, mix of dark humour and puns, rarely wears make-up and frankly doesn’t see the draw, never grew out of finding farts hilarious, known to wear dinosaur-print dresses or sometimes men’s clothes, definitely leaning more non-binary than female.

Also, I was wearing leggings as pants.

Fortunately, the surgery room itself wasn’t so scary. It was all linoleum, stirrup-ed seats and ultrasound machines. Things I had been around a lot and was very, very comfortable with by this point.

Me, sitting on a stirrup-ed procedure bed thing next to an ultrasound machine. I am looking off camera and saying 'Hurry up!' with a big smile on my face.

So, there we were. My pants (leggings) are off, my feet are in stirrups, my husband is holding my hand and a stylish lady in heels I only met five minutes earlier sticks an ultrasound wand and a supersoaker up my vagina.

I would like to preface this next bit by saying I have spoken to other people who have had this procedure and most of them described it as kind of uncomfortable but not the end of the world. That’s what I was told to expect, and if you are ever in this position, it’s probably what you should expect. I have also talked to people who had a similar experience to me, but we’re in the minority. I don’t want to make people nervous about this. This isn’t the usual way it goes.

Okay?

Okay.

It was weird.

I could feel the water. The sloshing. The cold. It went up my fallopian tube, and I could feel that, could have traced the path on my abdomen with my finger if I wasn’t distracted by the fact iT HURT A FUCKING LOT.

This isn’t news for approximately half the population, but cervixes don’t like getting poked. And, turns out, some of them not only super hate it but are downright vengeful about it and stress out your vagus nerve if you dare.

That is to say, I fainted.

If I was someone who looked pretty even when they cried, I daresay I would have come around fluttering my butterfly-wing eyelashes saying something like, ‘where am I?’. If I was wearing taupe and could use perfume without my skin itching, I’m sure I would have at least managed, ‘what happened?’ or possibly ‘I want to speak to the manager!’

Me lying flat on my back on the procedure bed. On one side, my partner stands looking concerned. On the other, a stylish woman with a stethoscope and a supersoaker stands looking perturbed. I am yelling 'I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.'

Look, I went before we left home. I’m very organised like that. So I’m claiming it was further vagus nerve shenanigans that caused my bowel to twist up and initiate voiding procedure. It’s definitely linked to your gut. I Googled it.

The specialist wanted me to lie down until I felt better, but I was not going to last that long. So, even though things were still a bit grey around the edges, I got up and tried to put on my pants (I mean, yeah, leggings).

Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t a great idea. I immediately had to drop to the floor and put my head between my legs when I started fainting again.

Still without pants.

So my husband and the very stylish lady in heels I only met fifteen minutes earlier got down on the floor with me and wrestled my pants (YES LEGGINGS. With holes, since you have to know. Cut me some slack, I was having a medical procedure and I dressed for comfort).

Also, this whole time my uterus was squeezing itself out like a dishcloth. On the pain scale, I was at ‘literally writhing in’.

When I was successfully wearing my holey-leggings-as-pants, I had to be supported out the examination room, back through the photoshoot-ready waiting-room … all so I could violate an orchid-infused bathroom definitely within earshot of the horrified receptionist.

Anyway, what we learned (other than my cervix needs anger management classes) was that the miscarriage hadn’t quite finished.

A month after I had sought medical management for my third miscarriage and spent two days in hospital with nurses collecting all my blood and ‘product’, and there was still some left inside me.

It wasn’t over.

***
My husband and I park the car. I wipe the tears off my face as I climb out.
***

What happens next is I will have to deal with it for a lot longer than people expect.

Once the fourth miscarriage appeared to be done and dusted, I started bleeding again. It was several months later—my period had returned ages ago and everything had seemed back to normal. Except this bleeding was a little early for where I thought I was in my cycle. Still, that can happen. So I got a pad and settled in to watch a movie with a heat-bag to help with the weirdly-terrible cramps I don’t usually get.

A short while later, I went to the bathroom and…

View of the inside of my underpants as I sit on the toilet (no body parts showing). The pad in my underpants are soaked in blood, as are my underpants. There is a giant blood clot on the pad. I say 'Well shit'.

This, for anyone not familiar with periods, is not remotely normal. You aren’t supposed to totally saturate a pad edge-to-edge to the degree of sodden-ness where if you hold it up, it drips. You aren’t supposed to soak your underwear as well. Or lose blood clots the size of an adult’s fist. You especially aren’t supposed to have all this happen in a little over an hour.

Two panels. The first shows the entrance to the Emergency Department. The second shows me in consult with a doctor. The doctor says 'We don't know. But you're not dying.'

The bleeding slowed, and I was deemed a waste of the ED’s time and sent home.

But it wouldn’t quite stop. Every few days it surged back to the massive-cramps and fist-sized clots degree. An ultrasound revealed nothing more than that my uterus was indeed full of blood. So, since my specialist wanted to get a scope in there anyway to hunt for anything that might be causing miscarriages, they took the opportunity to combine that with the surgical medical management option to clear any teensy lingering bits of pregnancy, which was everyone’s best guess at what was causing the bleeding.

It seemed to work.

***
My partner holds the door open for me to a building with a sign proclaiming 'ULTRASOUNDS R US'
***

What happens next is I will fail at my job. I will not be able to write or draw amusing things. I will not be able to concentrate. My time will trickle away, wasted. It won’t matter how frustrating I find it. It won’t matter how much I want to get things done. None of this is ever optional. My body, my brain, will hibernate without my permission.

Everything I have shoved down will come back up. I will step into dark rooms and flash back to that first dark room, the first time something was wrong. I will close my eyes and see the grainy ultrasound screen with the huge yolk sacs of my twins with no embryos attached. I will shut a door and it will be a hospital bathroom door and I’ll know that behind it is a bucket of pee, abandoned on the floor, that may or may not have contained some cells that once had the potential to be a baby. I will see any blood as a nightmare, the beginning of the end.

I will shove it down again.

I will not be okay

***
My husband and I sit in the ultrasound waiting room. Another happy and heavily pregnant couple are called in ahead of us.
***

What happens next is that I will think about life without kids. I want kids, I know this. But I also know I can be happy without them. What I can’t be is happy in this endless cycle, this limbo, this hellish groundhog day. I can’t be happy knowing exactly what happens next, and that it’s always horrible.

I will look around me for other people who can’t have children. I’ve met one or two, in a once-removed sort of way, but no one who is close. I don’t know any people my parent’s age without kids (if not biological, then of the step variety), and no one else in my close friend group has even tried.

I will look around for them in public life. I see them sometimes, but rarely. Mostly these people are child-free by choice, which is great but isn’t me. And mostly, at least if they are women, I will see them questioned, undermined or even demonised for that choice.

I will look for them in stories. When I find them they will be peripheral. Sad shadow-creatures. Objects of pity who are always a bit haunted, who can never be complete. Who willingly die to save other people’s kids or other people with kids. Who are permanently damaged.

I don’t want to be permanently damaged.

I think I’m already permanently damaged.

So I will make my own version. I will daydream that it’s years down the track, the cycle is broken, I stopped trying and am at peace. Maybe I will foster or adopt, but those can be difficult and expensive processes, and I have health issues so I might not be chosen. Either way, I will be okay. I will have a future, and not just one where I exist but one I like and can enjoy.

And in the present, the daydreams will make me happy.

***
***

But, eventually, what happens next is that I will try again. Despite my better judgement. Despite the hopelessness. Despite just wanting it to be over, to move on. Because I can’t move on. Because none of the tests have said I can’t carry a child to full term. Because the last monster to comes out of Pandora’s box is the most destructive of them all.

Hope.

Two panels. In the first, I am sitting on a procedure bed. My partner is next to me. A sonnogrammer is sitting in front of an ultrasound machine saying, 'It looks perfect! Strong heartbeat.' In the second panel, I burst into tears.

************************

A note to update:

That was October 2020. I am now in the third trimester, only a couple of months to go, and the baby has been doing great. It’s actually kicking me right now. Although it hasn’t entirely been an easy pregnancy (most notably first trimester nausea, all trimester fatigue and general emotional baggage from the last four years), and we’re not at the finish line yet, I’m much, much happier. I do still cry a lot, but now my reasons tend to be things like That Puppy Is Obscenely Cute or Someone Said Something That Reminded Me Of The First Few Scenes Of The Animated Tarzan Movie. (i.e., It’s a hormone thing).

A please-don’t-attack-me note:

You are correct, I didn’t mention or portray any pandemic safety stuff in the bits that took place during 2020. This isn’t because I am an irresponsible dickhead, it’s because I live in Australia and covid was very much under control at the time of that scan (however, the story of my 12 week scan, which took place during a local outbreak, would have looked very different). Over here, any time we don’t have covid cases in the community (i.e., most of the time), things are pretty normal. In fact, I am incredibly lucky that thanks to the quick action of authorities and the consideration of most Australians in following advice and restrictions, planning a pregnancy during the pandemic didn’t feel too risky.

A note for readers:

The books I was reading in hospital were:

  • Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant (pseudonym of Seannan McGuire)—entertaining monster horror with queer and disability rep.
  • Illuminae, by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff—YA space opera told through an (effective, not annoying) epistolary format.

I recommend both if they sound like your sort of thing.

A note on terminology:

Some people who have had miscarriages do not like the term ‘miscarriage’. The idea is that it makes it sound like your fault. I.e., you carried the baby wrong. And self-blame is something that many people who have had miscarriages struggle with.

The other term used is ‘pregnancy loss’. Personally, I don’t see how saying you ‘lost’ the baby is much different from saying you ‘miscarried’ it, and since I am talking about my own experiences here, I have gone with the terminology I feel comfortable with.

Which is ‘miscarriage’ … but with a caveat.

I lean away from using it as a verb. I.e., I tend not to say ‘I miscarried’. That does feel blame-y and ick and I don’t like it. However, I am okay with using ‘miscarriage’ as a noun. I.e., ‘I had a miscarriage’ or ‘the miscarriage’. And I think it works the same way with ‘loss’. As a verb (‘I lost the baby’) it’s blame-y and ick, but as a noun (‘I suffered a loss’ or ‘the pregnancy loss’) it’s fine. I don’t get angry or upset when other people use either of those words as verbs, and I’m not asking you to do that, it’s just what I personally prefer to do.

That said, everyone is different. If you know someone who has had a miscarriage and they have mentioned they do not like ‘miscarriage’, please do respect that around them. Definitely don’t use my acceptance of the term as reason to ignore their feelings.

The usual end note:

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

(Actually, since we’re about to get an additional mouth to feed this would be a particularly great time for you to do either of those things.)

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Night Terrors

3 panels. Panel 1: me, my partner and our cat are in bed. He and the cat are asleep. I am awake. The words 'I need to pee' are written above me. Panel 2: I close my eyes. 'No ... I can hold it. Only 4 hours until morning.' Panel 3: my eyes are open. 'I can't hold it.
3 panels. Panel 1: I reach over and turn the light on and say 'Sorry, I need the light on. So I can see if the monster comes for me.' Panel 2: I walk nervously to the door. Panel 3: I walk nervously down the hall to the bathroom.
3 Panels: Panel 1: I am sitting on the toilet, sound effect *pssssssssssssss*. Panel 2: I am on the toilet. Sound effect through wall *thud* and *pat pat pat pat pat pat pat*. Panel 3: I reach for the toilet paper and say 'oh no.'
3 panels. Panel 1: I nervously peek out the bathroom and down the hall. There's nothing there. Panel 2: I nervously peek into the bedroom. Nothing is amiss, but a sound effect begins behind me, *pat pat pat pat* Panel 3: my partner sits up in bed and yells 'Hurry! He's coming!' I am running toward the bed, the sound effect increases *pat pat pat Pat Pat Pat PAT PAT PAT*
A cat is latched to my leg, biting evily, there is blood, I scream 'MOTHERFU--'

************************

Our cat, Percy, has come up with a new game. He likes it very much. I do not.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Walk

3 panels. First panel, I sit on a couch, dinosaur looks out window and says 'It's lovely outside! Let's go for a walk!' Second panel, I say, 'Counterpoint...' Third panel, I have flopped backward and am having a nap.

************************

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a comic, and that’s largely because, well … I’ve been asleep a lot.

It’s just my usual Chronic Fatigue Syndrome fatigue (which comes and goes and will continue to come and go) and it’s actually lifted a lot over the last few weeks compared to how bad it was November/December last year. But, even so, I’m still working on getting back on top of my doing-stuff routine, which includes making comics.

I’m completely fine. I even know exactly what triggered the fatigue to be particularly bad, and it’s nothing to worry about. Still annoying for me, of course, but this is just life with a chronic illness.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Naps

Cartoon me napping on a couch, cat also napping. Text reads: Naps are pretty good. ... that's it. that's the whole comic.

************************

… And it looks like I’ll have plenty of opportunity to have them over the next week, as South Australia (where I live) has gone into hardcore lockdown to crush a covid outbreak. In fact, it’s practically my civil duty to nap right now.

UPDATE: Our lockdown lasted 3 days because it turns out the outbreak wasn’t as bad as they first thought. Oh well. I got a few naps in.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Horror

Comic, 3 panels. Me and partner sit on couch. In panel one, I say 'hey, we should play horror games together this october!' and my partner responds "uh ... I don't love horror, but okay." Panel two, still on couch, room is dark, I am cowering the the fetal position. Partner says 'do you want a go yet?' I say 'nope'. Panel 3. Looks the same as panel 2. My partner says, 'do you want to stop?' I say 'nope'.

************************

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Concentration

The Two Writing Modes: panel one has an abandoned desk. I crouch next to my cat, sleeping in a cat bed, and say 'You're just so distracting today!' the cat is clearly pissed I am bothering him. Panel two has me typing furiously at a desk. Meanwhile, a giant dinosaur foot has crashed through the ceiling. Outside, people are running and things are burning. The cat is hiding on my shoulders, tail floofed up. I am oblivious.

************************

I have no in between.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Troubling Questions

3 panels. Panel 1: my bearded partner and I are setting a table. Text "My partner's isolation beard...' Panel 2: '... has added an interesting twist to the age olf game of ...' Panel 3: (I am staring at a hair on the plate in front of me) '... is that a pube?'

*************************

I mean, I’m assuming it’s the beard and one of us isn’t just going bald down there.

Other safe stuff HERE.

If you love my stories and comics, toss a coin to your witcher. Check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! Along with the usual merch you can now get facemasks in my store. Specifically here.

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.